Jasper County Board of Commissioners
July 20, 2017
Public Hearing Minutes
Comm. Pennamon called the Public Hearing to order at 6:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present: Chairman, Carl Pennamon, Vice- Chairman, Bruce Henry, Don Jernigan, and Craig Salmon. Doug Luke was absent.
Staff Present: County Manager, Mike Benton, Clerk, Sharon Robinson, and County Attorney, David Ozburn. City of Monticello Officials Present: Mayor, Bryan Standifer, Councilwoman Cynthia Miller, and Councilman, Larry Thurman.
Comm. Pennamon noted this Public Hearing is for a $5 million dollar SPLOST for 6 years the 2 cities and the county have agreed on the split to stay the same as the current SPLOST (78% for County, 19% for City of Monticello, and 3% for City of Shady Dale).
Comm. Pennamon noted each of the entities proposed project list. (A copy is attached and made a part of the official minutes). The county portion total project amount is $8,280,130; the County will use their amount of $3.9 million dollars as debt service to pay back the $8.2 million dollars they plan to borrow. City of Monticello amount is $950,000, and the City of Shady Dale amount is $150,000.
Charles Forsythe noted this is confusing, the numbers don’t add up. Questioned if the citizens will be voting on the $8.2 million or the $3.9 million. In reference to recreation gym, he does not think recreation needs a gym as the taxpayers have already paid for 2 gyms that are under-utilized. County is not upholding their proper fiduciary responsibility by counting on Stanton Springs money.
Mary Patrick noted she is concerned about the Sheriff Building and the Recreation Gym. She has been told we need to do something for the kids, 60% of our taxes go to the schools. Why can’t school gyms be utilized? Concerned with the $7.5 million dollar bonds, feels SPLOST should stand on its own and pay for roads, not some debt scheme that has been talked about for 3 or 4 months.
Comm. Pennamon clarified that it will not be the $3.9 million on top of $7.5 million. The county is proposing to use the $3.9 million SPLOST to retire debt on the $7.5 million they plan on borrowing to get these projects done. There is $300,000 left in the 2012 SPLOST for the gymnasium and it will be used to help with recreation.
Comm. Pennamon noted the board is going to look at borrowing through a USDA Loan or locally instead of bonds because bonds will cost more. The Recreation building budget has been cut from $2.5 million to $2.2 million.
Ms. Patrick asked if the county is going to borrow the $7.5 million does that mean the citizens won’t vote on it. Will we have 2 votes, one on SPLOST and one on the $7.5 million?
Atty. Ozburn noted there will be one referendum to vote SPLOST up or down.
Comm. Salmon noted without the SPLOST there will be no $7.5 million; the SPLOST is to retire that out of debt service, it is not in addition.
Comm. Henry noted we have the $8.2 million that still has to be cut, and we have not decided on the $7.5 million.
Comm. Jernigan noted the Sheriff has said he is willing to re-draw his plans and do without some of the stuff in the current plans.
Comm. Salmon noted $3.1 million was the Sheriff’s original proposal and it is now $2.25 million so some of that was taken out. The Gymnasium is just an estimate. He believes it can be done for less than $2 million. As for other gyms in the county, hopefully we can come together and work on some joint assistance on them, he also knows that sometimes the events overlap which makes it hard.
Ms. Patrick noted since things are a little different from what has been discussed, are there going to be any plans and are these going to be available before we vote.
Comm. Pennamon noted the key to this is that we have to work and get plans to fit within the numbers that we have. That is one of the reasons we are proposing borrowing to fund these projects.
Comm. Salmon noted the 2018 SPLOST will be the same number, the $5 million over 6 years.
Comm. Jernigan noted everything that departments are asking for is still needed.
Mr. Forsythe noted there is still a degree of confusion on how this is going to work. SPLOST is supposed to have a list of projects that money will be spent on; what are we voting on? Are we voting on $7 million or this list of things to be funded out of SPLOST but that money is going to be used to pay off the other part of this debt?
Comm. Pennamon clarified the plans are that we will vote on a $5 million dollar SPLOST, the county share will be $3.9 million dollars based on current projections, our $3.9 million will be used to pay the debt for the particular projects.
Ms. Patrick questioned if there is going to be an amount in the referendum that tells us the amount.
Atty. Ozburn noted yes, the referendum will list it.
Ms. Patrick clarified that it will say you are voting on the list and that the county is borrowing money.
Atty. Ozburn noted it has to.
Comm. Henry noted and that the $3.9 million will go to service that debt.
Kathy Mudd, noted she thinks that we need to make it clear that we may come back to ask for another SPLOST to retire the rest of the debt.
Comm. Pennamon reminded the audience whether you are for or against SPLOST, please state the facts.
Stone Workman questioned if there will be 2 questions on the SPLOST ballot.
Atty. Ozburn noted you are not allowed to split the vote, there will be just one yes or no option; the first will list all the projects and estimated cost, the next paragraph will list the detail of the general obligation debt that the county intends to issue.
Ms. Patrick questioned the City of Monticello if they thinks this is going to help the SPLOST to pass.
Mayor Standifer noted anytime you are talking about debt, there is a risk; the county has some solid projects that will help the entire county. As long as we put it on the referendum with transparency, and people can truly understand it; the citizens will have to vote and give that answer.
Comm. Pennamon declared the Public Hearing closed at 6:40 p.m.
Carl Pennamon, Chairman
Sharon Robinson, Clerk